Choices…. until quarantine, our choices ran limitless when it came to exercise or nutrition. We have always had a choice of where to go exercise, what to eat for a snack, how to get our heart rate up, and who to bring along for the fun. Our society is very social. Think about it… Most major celebrations from holidays to weddings have some type of food component as part of the celebration. But, with the year 2020 and the emergence of the Covid-19, our “normal” choices have come to a screeching halt. Now, making wrong choices, which include eating from stress or boredom or simply choosing to do nothing, have become the norm.
The current problem is the wide variety of choices in our homes, actually sabotaging our efforts to eat healthy. In all fairness, the reality of having all members of the family home means more variety is needed to meet everyone’s preferences. EUFIC (The European Food Information Council) lists 6 different determinants that help direct our food choices. Four out of the six have been heightened during our quarantine mandates. Economic determinants or the influence of our pocketbooks on our food choices has been felt deeply, forcing many to choose foods of lower quality. As a result, stores are stocking less expensive choices, making high quality healthy foods sometimes harder to be found. Out of fear, many buy packaged foods with greater shelf-life, cheaper but also less healthy. The physical determinants of food choice include access to food and time to cook. No longer do we have to take a lunch break to eat, the cabinets are always there. In addition, time is not a limitation. Though one would think that these would cancel one another out, the Evidation Health Covid 19 Pulse Study reports physical activity is down, and snacking is up. Psychologically and of no surprise, this study reports both stress and anxiety up, negatively influencing our ability to make wise choices.
What do we do? How do we maintain hope in the midst of this great challenge? How do we keep from making those poor decisions? Here are some tips to do just that. Try one, try all. The important step is to try…
Try one thing and keep at it. Too often we try too many things, increasing our chances of completing none.
Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep. If this is not true of you, there are natural supplements to aid in improving sleep. Sleep is crucial to making wise choices. Check out this evidence-based article on natural sleep aids.
Create a better night-time routine.
Stock your cabinets with healthy choices. Say “No” to those things that you love a little too much. Quite honestly, there are even some healthy choices out there that you may find you just cannot have on the shelf. If you have a tendency of binge eating a certain item, do NOT buy it. Exchange sodas with sparkling water or Zevias (sodas sweetened with stevia). Replace junk food with healthier versions – yes, they exist for almost all junk food. These typically mean less sugar, fewer chemicals, or more natural ingredients.
Having groceries delivered will reduce impulse buying, saving you money and helping you with better choices.
Stay hydrated. Lack of water can trick us into thinking that we are hungry over actual thirst. Force yourself to drink water in between every alternative drink. Fill up your water bottles at the beginning of the day and determine to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water. Use urine as a guide – it should be clear to lightly colored.
What color is your pee? Clearer the better.
Journal your food – download an app: My Food Diary, See How You Eat, or My Fitness Pal.
Use a website such as cronometer. Dr. Mercola is a distinguished holistic MD that takes nutrition to a deeper level, giving you truly the nutrients that you intake or are missing when you use his cronometer. Making yourself document your foods helps to cement your choices in your head, forcing you to face the facts – and not “forget” that snack you may have chosen earlier in the day.
Reading labels, or even taking the time to track what you eat, is a keystone habit and will positively influence other areas of your life.
"Since March 1st, and through April 6th, physical activity has declined 48%." Evidation Study
Stress reduction – limit your time with the news. Get outside, put your feet in the grass, and breathe deeply. Stretch, try yoga or Pilates. Move - outside or in. We are blessed with amazing creation to behold, but there are tons of online options to lead you through at-home workouts. Meditation and prayer bring us back to a calm in the midst of stress.
Getting exercise in the day is linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety. Let's get physical!
Lastly, stay positive. Do not let negative thinking about your body or the current situation overwhelm you. Be hopeful and know we will all get through this! Things are already beginning to look up!!